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Why Digital Marketing Is Important for Small Businesses

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For many small businesses, the start is always the hardest. There isn’t much of an established customer base yet, so they have to build that up first.

A lot of businesses turn to the traditional options for that: word-of-mouth and advertising techniques like flyers and print ads.

And to be fair, these things still do work.

However, they’re not the best options for most nowadays. Today, even small businesses should consider digital channels first for their early forays into marketing.

This is an increasingly digital world, after all, with ever more tools available for businesses seeking to generate leads and convert interest into customers.

Let’s talk about that here so you can figure out if you should invest in digital marketing yourself.

What is digital marketing?

Digital marketing is promotion that takes place on the digital plane.

Some people also call it online marketing. That’s because just about every digital marketing channel is one that relies on the Web, i.e. it presumes that the viewer is online.

So, for instance, any sort of promotion on social media is digital marketing. That’s because social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram are digital platforms.

The same is true of the ads you see on some websites that lead you to a product or service page when you click on them. Those ads are called PPC or pay-per-click ads, by the way.

These examples already tell you that there are many types of digital marketing. And it’s not just about techniques: it’s also about channels and the plethora of them available.

We’ve touched on them before in our explanation of how to drive traffic in our series on the stages of an online marketing plan. Check that out if you want to learn more!

Benefits of Online Marketing

Before we go into how small businesses should start digital marketing, let’s go over more of the reasons they should in the first place.

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1. You can reach more people.

Online marketing lets you reach a much larger audience than you would by sticking to traditional marketing methods. It’s the beauty of the World Wide Web!

This can make it much easier for you to expand your customer base as time goes on. You can even take things global, depending on what you’re offering.

And remember, more and more customers are seeking businesses online first too. Some surveys even peg it at 99% of customers going online to find local products and services!

2. You get more opportunities to learn about customers.

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Knowing customers – their needs, wants, and preferences – is critical. Digital marketing actually helps a lot there.

That’s because a lot of the tools used here include functions for capturing and analysing data about your clients.

You can use this to improve your offerings and even personalise them for specific customers. And of course, you can use the data to improve your marketing efforts.

3. You can save money on marketing.

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Digital marketing actually lets you reach more customers for less than most traditional channels.

It’s partly because most digital marketing ventures aren’t affected by the geographic boundaries you’d run into with traditional counterparts, of course.

4. You can target audiences more accurately.

Target board with image of people around it to represent target audience.

Thanks to the power of data, it’s fairly easy to do targeting by group in digital marketing. Platforms like Google certainly offer robust targeting functions.

That means you can show the right message to the right people at the right time – and thus, get more conversions!

5. You can forge connections and drive engagement for brand loyalty.

Image representing network and connections.

Granted, you can do this offline too. But it’s so much easier to start doing it online, as you don’t even have to engage in face-to-face interactions to do so.

Platforms like social media make it very easy to start connecting to customers and take your interactions with them to the next level. This can help you start building up brand loyalty faster and on a larger scale.

5 Tips for Getting Started in Digital Marketing for SMEs

Let’s preface the tips with this fact: you absolutely have the time and money to compete with even bigger businesses online.

It’s worth noting this because there seems to be a common belief that SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) have no hope of competing with big ones online.

The opposite is true. The digital marketplace is generally competitive – that’s because quality counts for a lot in online marketing.

Big businesses can’t just drown out other voices by paying for all the commercial spots in this programme, to use a metaphor. There are too many spots and they’re not all selected based on who can pay for them!

Anyway, let’s take a look at 5 things that can help you when you start:

1. Do your competitor research.

Simply being online isn’t enough. You also need to know what the competition is doing so you learn from it and possibly do better than it.

What marketing strategy are they using? What content are they making?

How do they handle their brand voice and image? Can you adapt any of their techniques for your business?

Note that there are a lot of tools you can use to streamline the competitor research. Tools like Ahrefs, Moz, and Semrush can do things like find out what keywords competitors are using to rank, for instance.

2. Optimise your presence online.

Your being online is useless if people can’t find you. So, make yourself easy to find!

That means optimising your online assets – like your website – through SEO. To learn more, see our articles on what SEO is and why small businesses in particular need it.

3. Get to know your target audience.

Being online makes engaging with your prospects easier than ever, so take advantage of it.

For example, try to start conversations with target customers online, run surveys to get insights on them, and start reading or processing comments from your demographic to see patterns.

This will enable you to tailor your offerings to better meet their needs, as noted earlier.

Social media is particularly useful for this, by the way. Want to know more about how to use it? Check out our article on social media marketing trends for this year.

4. Get more for your money by targeting.

Budgets are hugely customisable in digital marketing. You can start advertising from as little as $5 online, for example.

Remember that platforms now allow you to exclude audiences from your advertising efforts as well. With this, you won’t waste money advertising to people who’ll never buy from you.

Finally, bear in mind that different channels tend to be populated by different audiences. TikTok is dominated by those aged 10-19, for instance, while Instagram is dominated by those aged 18-34.

5. Ensure you have a constantly open shop front.

The most important thing to check this off your list is to set up a website. Your website serves as an online shopfront people can access 24/7.

By having an online presence like this, you let customers look for and find you at any point of the day, at their convenience. With the right tools or functions, you even give them the power to purchase anytime or send in enquiries at any time.

Start on your own SME’s digital marketing now

As you can see, digital marketing offers a lot to small businesses, provided they know how to take advantage of all the tools available nowadays.

If you think you need some help putting together your own marketing plan, talk to us. We’ve set up online marketing plans for a lot of SMEs and can do the same for you.

Contact us for a chat for your digital marketing needs!


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